Posts filed under ‘Sustainability’

Photos from Beach Flats Garden

A couple weeks ago my friend asked me to take some photos of the Beach Flats Community Garden in Santa Cruz which they can use for their upcoming blog. Some of them turned out pretty good.


From my Santa Cruz Indymedia post:

The weather is warming and this years summer crops at the Beach Flats Community Garden are coming up. It’s been over a year since the Garden was first threatened with closure by the overburdened and resource-strapped Community Center which oversees it. Since, members of the community have banded together not only that once, but again last December, to make sure the garden stays open, the second time in the face of city budget cuts. Despite the threats, gardeners continue to plant, tend and harvest.


June 5, 2009 at 2:48 pm Leave a comment

Is Access to Land a Human Right?

Calabasa a la jardin de la comunidad de la playa en Santa Cruz

Calabasa a la jardin de la comunidad de la playa en Santa Cruz

Fantastic piece by Antonio Roman-Alcalá over at Civil Eats today. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about access to land and it’s implications on our food system. As we watch the trend of home (food) gardening grow, questions arise not only about how to do it, since recent generations have lost the tradition of passing down that art, but WHERE to do it. A record percentage (over half) of the global population lives in cities. So it follows, that for the first time in human history, more than half the human population has extremely limited options when it comes to feeding themselves. The local food movement is surely drawing attention to this issue, but as local food gains importance, supply will surely become an issue. This is where access to land becomes a key component of our food future. Finding suitable ground is one of the biggest barriers to entering the farming profession. Not only is the good stuff too expensive to purchase, leasing is risky. Maybe the ground has had chemicals sprayed on it. Maybe you’ll be able to work it for one or two years, only to lose your lease, thereby losing the precious investment you’ve made building the soil.

But why are we still in a situation where the rich get to decide the best uses for land, while hard working, intelligent, compassionate, humble workers just do what we’re told?

The “Slow Money” principles (obviously drawing it’s name from the Slow Food movement) is attempting to address this issue. It feels like it’s in infancy stage, but there could be some excited ideas here. I’m personally convinced there is something to banding people together to buy back farmland for our collective good. Maybe collective purchase of land is our next step together in taking back our food system.

May 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm 1 comment

Shoutout to Freshman Farmers

I recently came across the Freshman Farmer blog (thanks, Bridgett!) and it is awesome! A collection of young farmers blog about what’s happening on their farms. There are some great photo slideshows of life on the farm and the posts are written with great voice and funny! For example, here’s some Farmer Math:

Silence! The units are a little different, but the concept is very familiar. Observe:

P(Rain) = Q(Uncovered Wood)/Q(All Wood) U “Oh, it’s not going to rain this week.”

This formula illustrates the probability of rain as being equal to the percentage of vulnerable wood you left exposed after saying, “Oh, it’s not going to rain this week.”

But we are not done yet. Notwithstanding the above:

P(Rain)=0 if TankRefill () = False

This states that no matter what, it will not rain if you don’t refill the water tank.


May 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm Leave a comment

Help Make Fresh Water More Accessible in Africa

Maybe you’ve heard what I have, that if we put wells in Africa we could end world hunger (despite what all those mono-crop, biotech agriculture companies say) because people could support themselves. Sources of fresh water are so scarce that the problem is way beyond one relating to growing food, it’s causing wars and disease. In some places, the life expectancy in Africa is 38 years! Charity water is taking the proceeds from their bottled water to building the much-needed water pumps in Africa. Check out this awesome promo video.

(Sorry this is just an image still from the video, but click on the still to get to the video. Darn! No embed for Kaltura videos!)

Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease, and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Many people in the developing world, usually women and children, walk more than three hours every day to fetch water that is likely to make them sick. Those hours are crucial, preventing many from working or attending school. Additionally, collecting water puts them at greater risk of sexual harassment and assault. Children are especially vulnerable to the consequences of unsafe water. Of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation, 90% are children under 5 years old.

I found this video because it’s part of a contest for the NTEN conference, a gathering of techies in the non-profit sector, which I am attending in San Francisco this year. Yes, I’m a non-profit techie. Isn’t it amazing what a little nerd plus new media can do!?!

April 24, 2009 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

Homemade Fermenting Fun

Urban Homesteaders KimchiNot only is kimchi so tasty, it’s good for you! Kimchi is a yummy Korean fermented salad usually made with cabbage and various spices, similar to sauerkraut. I love it when it’s really garlic-y! Lately, it seems like everyone is talking about probiotics and fermented foods as essentials to digestive health, so take a clue and get yourself some! Check out this homemade batch by the Urban Homesteaders made with homegrown carrots, daikon radish, green onions and cabbage.

If you’re in the Bay Area, Santa Cruz-based Happy Girl Kitchen is doing Fermenting and canning workshops which you can attend for a small fee. The day is complete with local organic lunch! Fermenting and canning your own food is a great way to use up the excess harvest from the garden and is good for the planet since there are no food miles from your plate to your backyard.

April 24, 2009 at 11:36 am Leave a comment

Planning for Planting

Andrea's Plot Plan

Andrea's Plot Plan

There’s a great post at Heavy Petal about some simple steps to planning your garden so you’re growing and harvesting each season.

Andrea, the author, went to a permaculture course in her hometown of Vancouver, BC, and learned a simple method of charting out the plan in a grid:

I find this a great way to quickly see if I’ve got any obvious empty spots in a bed. In one bed, for example, I just had carrots and tomatoes, which left big blank spots in the “Harvest” row for spring, and in the “Plant” row for fall. By adding an overwintering vegetable such as leeks or Brussels sprouts to that bed, I could plant in fall and be harvesting the next spring – getting that much more action out of a single bed.

From, Planning for a year-round harvest (or How I went from slacker to Serious Planner). Check it out!

March 26, 2009 at 10:53 am Leave a comment

Three Women Document their Bike Adventure of Sustainable Ag Projects

Liz, Kat and Lara, three women from Washington, D.C. biked 2,000 miles last year to tour community agricultural projects from Washington, D.C. to Montreal, Canada. They carried video equipment with them and the footage has turned into a low budget documentary. Here’s a preview:

An article in the Washington Post today reported on their journey and upcoming film release:

In the course of their three-month odyssey, the women found a community garden in the gutted ghettos of Baltimore, were run off the road by a truck in New Jersey, abandoned efforts to cycle across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York and got hopelessly lost in New England towns. They slept in the gardens of strangers, discovered new ethnic food and recipes and cemented their desire to change the world by growing vegetables.

Yay for bike adventure! Yay for community garden projects!

July 24, 2008 at 3:18 pm 3 comments

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